The Cost Of Curiosity

When left unbounded, it can ruin your consulting business.

The most brilliant consultants I know are extremely curious. They have an intrinsic fascination with everything new and different. But they also understand this feeling, if unrestrained, is dangerous for their consulting practice.

When we take control of curiosity, we find and bring creative ideas to solve old problems, and new offerings that can better serve our clients. But if you let the attraction towards the new and different free, you will avoid specialization and dilute your positioning in the marketplace.

Curiosity is often the excuse we take to avoid choosing a focus. Why should we only perform in one area of the business, or serve one industry vertical, if the work is interesting? You may as well remain as a "business consultant" doing all things for all people.

When you make that (conscious or unconscious) decision, however, you invite competition. Some generalist consultants like you, but also some highly specialized firms. When the alternatives are many, the power is all in the clients' hands.

In this scenario, you will never be the expert firm. You will never command the attention and respect you want. You barely have any leverage.

When you don't have leverage who's leading the buying process is the client, not you. This means you will be forced to diagnose or share ideas for free. Waste your time responding to RFPs. And compete on price.

Our nature as curious human beings is averse to the narrow specialization that produces deep expertise. But we should be mindful that this focus is the non-negotiable condition we need to fulfill to see our consulting business thrive.

The more you want to preserve your options and do something you never did before, the more you will avoid the most important of all your decisions: choosing which business you are in.

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